MSE Seminar: “Design of Cell-instructive Biomaterials in Biomedical Applications”

Date(s) - 02/20/2024
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Rhines Hall 125



Cells have evolved complex systems to sense and respond to a diverse range of biophysical and biochemical cues, leading to differences in cell development, function, and death. To understand the signals that impact cell behavior, we use synthetic matrices to study the microenvironmental cues that drive these changes. However, decoupling these signals and mimicking the richness of the cellular microenvironment is a chemistry and engineering challenge.

Leveraging a philosophy that promotes materials development that is sustainable, scalable, and clinically relevant, my research combines the molecular design creativity of chemists with the application-oriented mindset of biomaterial engineers to better mimic the intricacy of the native extracellular environment. I use this approach to formulate cell-instructive materials to advance biological understanding and provide tools for regenerative medicine. For example, I developed a mechanically tunable hydrogel platform for 3D cell culture wherein we leverage hydrophobic interactions of a protein polymer to tune hydrogel stiffness.

In a separate project, I created a hydrogel that combines both static and dynamic covalent bonds that are viscoelastic yet stable for 3D bioprinting of cardiovascular models. Lastly, I demonstrate that tuning the hydrophilicity and void space of tissue-engineered blood vessels prevents thrombosis and promotes beneficial remodeling in rat models. The lessons learned from these projects can be used to develop next-generation in vitro models and in vivo therapies for diverse biomedical applications


Renato Navarro, Ph.D.

K99 MOSAIC Postdoctoral Fellow
Stanford University

Dr. Renato Navarro is a first-generation and non-traditional student. Before pursuing a formal education, he undertook a career in the military that sparked his passion for engineering and regenerative medicine. Dr. Navarro began his higher education at San Antonio Community College before moving to St. Mary’s University, where he majored in Biochemistry. After receiving an M.S. in Chemistry at Texas State University – San Marcos, Dr. Navarro attended the University of Michigan, earning a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. During this time, his research focused on developing sustainable biomaterials for cardiovascular engineering.

As an NIH K99 Postdoctoral Researcher at Stanford University, Dr. Navarro’s interest has been developing injectable hydrogels to deliver therapies after a heart attack. Besides his research, Dr. Navarro has a passion for mentorship and service. At Stanford University, he has mentored students from the Stanford BIO-X summer research program, Stanford Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and Foothill Community College, earning him the BIO-X Star Mentorship Award. Additionally, he serves as a board member for the Stanford Latinx Postdoc Association and assists in recruiting efforts for underrepresented minority postdocs through the Stanford Postdoctoral Recruitment Initiative in Sciences and Medicine program. Ultimately, he aims to lead a research team that pursues comprehensive solutions to cardiovascular clinical challenges via chemistry and materials engineering approaches.